How Can One-Tank Help Me Win Customers?
In your quest for world domination as a propane marketer, you must show a deep understanding of your customers’ challenges if you want to emerge as the preferred option. Quite often, in even a small couple of counties here in Missouri, there can be as many as 10 distributors fighting over a few thousand accounts. There are winners and there are losers, and it’s not always clear why some succeed and others fail. There are the obvious factors such as referrals (perhaps the strongest sales tool, and which are won by providing excellent service), price, proximity, and so on, but then there are the intangibles that every marketer has the ability to cultivate.
The average residential propane customer has a three primary motivators or fears when it comes to choosing who they do business with, and each has its root causes:
- Will my distributor allow me to run out of gas?
- Will my distributor deal honestly with me?
- Will they fudge the numbers and overcharge me for extra gallons?
- Will they change their prices?
- Are the drivers and trucks up to code, and do I trust them with my safety?
- Price per gallon relative to local competition
- Types of payment plans available for service such as:
- Summer fill
- Budget billing
- Automatic delivery
- Consumption billing (download PDF)
- Is it a pain for me to get service?
- Can I see when I’m scheduled for my next delivery?
- Do I have to call, or can I allow my distributor to handle it without my input?
- Is my distributor professional, and does he or she know the industry?
- Do they care about me?
Most family businesses which have been delivering propane for generations have a formula that works for them. Often, these types of smaller independent dealers have a loyal customer base who have been around just as long as they themselves have. This usually means that these companies are winning their market.
Newcomers to the market who buy a business or start their own (fleetingly rare but still does happen) thus start with one or both hands tied behind their backs. Those types of companies make up a large portion of our customer base.
Here’s a list of the reasons why One-Tank is an attractive option for them:
- Because the marketer is using the customer’s tank for storage, it benefits the marketer and the customer to keep the tank full(er). This is what sets One-Tank apart from traditional tank monitoring technology, as other monitors lack the capability for temperature compensated consumption billing.
- Customers will only run out of gas by human error, as both the customer and the marketer now have access to near real-time data of the levels in the tanks, as well as historical usage patterns.
- Because the tanks are enabled for consumption billing, or metering, there will never be a discrepancy in the number of gallons charged to the customer.
- Since One-Tank is required to be approved by national weights and measures standards, as do the meters on the bobtails, the marketer must maintain a safety standard up to code in two separate points, not just one. This can be leveraged as a marketing tool to earn trust.
- Since the cost of buying wholesale propane is lower with One-Tank by a significant margin, the marketer has the freedom to charge less than his or her competition while maintaining the same profit margin, or even more.
- Customers enjoy the peace of mind knowing their marketer can always see the level in the tank, as well as receive alerts for gas leaks.
Because of the early success of the younger companies that are using monitoring to capture customers on all three fears (trust, price, and simplicity), we are starting to see older companies come around to the modern way of doing things in order to maintain their competitive edge. It falls to the individual marketer to ask him or herself the following questions to decide whether it’s time to start monitoring tanks and using them for storage:
- Are my competitors using tank monitors?
- If they are, is it successful for them? Why/why not
- If they aren’t, should I be the innovator?
- Am I losing market share, or am I growing at the rate I’d like?
- How much am I paying for wholesale propane during the winter months?
If you take the time to answer those three questions and you don’t like what you see, reach out. We’re always happy to have the discussion even if it doesn’t lead us to doing business immediately.
Click here if you would like to schedule some time with us to talk about your goals and how we can help you realize them.